When I’m walking through the streets around Times Square, I tend to keep moving as quickly as I can, while focusing on my destination rather than my actual surroundings. If you’ve been anywhere near Times Square over the past decade or two, you’ll understand.
One afternoon, however, I was forced to wait for a traffic light to change, and as I stood on the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, I did something that New Yorkers often forget to do: I looked up.
Above the sign for a T.G.I.Fridays restaurant and behind a billboard for some Fox television series, this building still bears the inscription “THE SHOW FOLKS SHOP DEDICATED TO BEAUTY IN FOOTWEAR.” And four niches in the dirtied marble facade contain statues of silent-screen actresses in costume.
Mary Pickford is the best-known of the quartet, and she is dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy. The others are Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, and Rosa Ponselle.
Of course, I’m not the first person to wonder about this building. The New York Times explains that it was once an I. Miller boutique and showroom, where footwear for theater productions (as well as non-stage use) was displayed.
The sculptures are the work of Alexander Sterling Calder, the second generation in a famous family of sculptors.
Images: photos by Tinsel Creation; Mary Pickford in “Little Lord Fauntleroy” via Milestone Films.